Stick to football or highlight Qatar World Cup issues? It’s possible to do bothNovember 17, 2022
If you are a football fan travelling to the Qatar World Cup and you want a pint of beer, according to reports, it will cost you about R240.
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Unfortunately that’s about the mildest of atrocities surrounding this World Cup, steeped in allegations of corruption at world footballing body Fifa, and being held in a country that treats migrant workers appallingly, has laws against homosexuality, and discriminates heavily against women, to borrow from just three human rights abuses noted by Amnesty International.
‘Stick to football’ is the missive being sent out by Fifa, whose President, Giovanni Infantino has, completely incidentally, been living in the Gulf State in the build up to the competition.
Yet ‘stick to football’ if the bid documents for the 2022 World Cup are to be believed, is exactly what FIFA didn’t do, in awarding the World Cup to Qatar. Money talks, basically, and oil-rich Qatar has loads of it.
The problem is that most will pretty much stick to football for the next month or so, as 32 teams battle for the greatest trophy in the game. FIFA and Qatar know they have a captive market, an audience of millions who would much rather watch the beautiful game and ignore its ugly side off the field.
You can’t really love football and not be compromised in some way. On a personal level I supported a team for years, Chelsea, funded by a Russian oligarch. And I’m not really sure the American capitalists who have taken over are any better, or just have better PR.
Sportswashing is real and it works, but can you really blame the average football fan for throwing their moral compass in the bin? After all, what a glorious game this is, and it’s no football fans’ fault who buys the club they love. Or the World Cup they love.
But we can certainly both be aware of appalling human rights abuses and keep it in the public eye, even while watching and loving the football. So from Sunday I’ll be watching, but I won’t stop calling out Qatar.
I put to you that it is precisely because an organisation as dodgy as FIFA want you to stick to football, that you shouldn’t do it.